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Porthcurno Beach

January 10, 2015 No Comments

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Nestled and wind sheltered between Cornish cliffs lies Porthcurno Beach. After taking a left turn somewhere west of Penzance, you’ll definitely be feeling a little off the beaten track as lanes coil and snake around, eventually dropping you at the coast. The beach itself has a wonderfully Mediterranean feel, with delicate, fine sand leading down to crystal clear, azure waters, even on overcast days. The sand is mostly made up of broken shells; fantastic for in depth exploring and wandering eyes.

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Recommended in last years Good Beach Guide, Porthcurno is popular with families. With no cafés or ice-cream vans littering the beach, there’s just you, the sand and the sea. A stream flows down one side of the beach, which is perfect for the children to play in and at low tide there are rock pools to explore. Off to the left you can see the huge granite headland of Logan’s Rock in the distance and up to the right, at the top of a winding pathway, sits the internationally renowned Minack Theatre.

To get to the beach from the car park you take a short path past gorse bushes and the reassuringly present lifeguard hut – manned between June and September – before the path drops steeply down to the beach itself. Back at the car park itself you’ll find a café, shop and the public toilets: you’ve got all the mod-cons close to hand without your beach view being ruined.

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Around Porthcurno there’s lots more to do. Logan’s Rock and its 80 ton granite rocking stone is a 30 minute walk up the coastal path, and if ‘getting away from it all’ is what you are after there are lots of hidden coves and beaches on the way – some only bearing sand at low tide.

There’s the Minack itself, which is a unique theatrical experience and would round off a summer’s day at the beach, but there doesn’t have to be a play on for it to be explored – there are opportunities to wander round the stone seats and stage throughout the day.

Porthcurno’s other claim to fame is its importance in British international communications: the first undersea communications cable was laid here in 1870 and stretched all the way from the UK to India. The concrete cable hut, where the cable was connected to a landline is now a listed building and stands at the top of the beach. Back up, by the car park, is the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum. I know this sound a bit specialised for most tastes – including the children – but there are loads of interactive exhibitions and things to decipher and is a great way to fill a few hours.

So Porthcurno is more than just a beach experience; it can also be a historical experience, an exploratory experience, and a cultural experience all rolled into one.

 

 

 

Minack Theatre without a performance

May 6, 2014 No Comments

The Minack Theatre is worth a visit even when there are no performances – as my visit yesterday will show.

First of all –  if you are going just to explore then check first that your visit does not clash with a performance – the programme of events run from Easter to September. Schedule for 2014.

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Planned and built by Rowena Cade with the first theatrical performance in 1932 the Minack (meaning ‘Rocky Place’) Theatre is built into the cliff side with steep steps and terraced seating.

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Now a fully equipped, internationally famous outdoor theatre where the show goes on whatever the weather (almost) and shows have stopped temporarily for the audience to watch the pods of dolphins playing in the sea below.   The audience sit on steep, grassy ledges with views to die for, down to the stage and out to sea.

The planting in the gardens reflects the nature and weather of this position – with salty winds and sweeping rain in the winter yet attracting the heat of the sun in the summer. You will find plants in flower at all times of the year.

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Outstanding views abound, looking down at the stunning Porthcurno beach or across the bay to Logan’s Rock and in the far distance, The Lizard.  But the Theatre alone is so photogenic – even when the sun declines to make a show as in my photos.  The WCs are spotless and the cafe has the best views in the world – in my opinion. As a treat at the end of your visit – beautiful jewellery and gifts (and fudge!) can be purchased in the shop.

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